Game of Thrones Is Such a Chick Show

What Women Really Think
April 7 2014 4:11 PM

Game of Thrones Is Such a Chick Show

Game of Thrones has a reputation for being a gritty, masculine show about war, kings, and naked prostitutes. But halfway through the premiere of season four Sunday night, during an engrossing scene in which a beautiful young bride-to-be and her charmingly mouthy grandmother argue playfully over jewelry choices for an upcoming wedding, it occurred to me that Game of Thrones isn't just a fantasy series. It's an old-fashioned daytime soap opera. It's a chick show.

Think about it: Nearly all the plots set in motion in this episode are the stuff of traditionally feminine narratives. Marital troubles, sexual jealousy, ungrateful children, and, of course, the intricacies of wedding planning. It's All My Children, just with more amputated limbs.


The war is basically over for now, and the surviving characters are turning to domestic concerns. As Salon TV critic Neil Drumming explains, the episode focused on the "organic, enduring" and of course "confounding unit of humanity: the family." Tyrion Lannister is caught between concern for his wife and loyalty to his family. Plus he has a demanding mistress whose intense jealousy threatens to upend whatever fragile peace he's trying to keep in his household. Cersei Baratheon is a jealous mother-in-law struggling to be No. 1 in her son's life, even though he's getting married. Jaime Lannister is resisting his father's pressure to marry and settle down, still infatuated with a woman he can't ever marry, because she's his sister. Even Daenerys Targaryen, who is marching across Essos sacking cities and freeing slaves, is having trouble adjusting to her darling children becoming more independent. Yes, those children are dragons, and they're showing their independence by dropping mutilated goats from the sky, but the empty nest pangs she's feeling should be familiar to any parent. Plus, she maybe sort of has a crush on a cute guy. When he gives her flowers, she blushes.

None of this is really new, of course. Unlike more traditional fantasy like the Lord of the Rings series, where there are so few women that you start to wonder if the characters reproduce through parthenogenesis, female characters and domestic concerns have always been central to Game of Thrones. The War of the Five Kings starts for the most soap opera-y of reasons—the queen is passing off children she conceived in adultery as her husband's own—and ends, tellingly, at a wedding. A wedding where the host kills off half the wedding guests in a bloody massacre, but even that is an act of revenge because of a romantic snubbing. In the world of Game of Thrones, who marries whom and who has a baby with whom matters, in the end, even more than who wins on the battlefield.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.